VietNamNet Bridge - The Thai government’s statement in late July that it is considering bringing water from the Mekong, Moei and Salween rivers to farmland to nine of its provinces has raised major concerns.




The water diversion has been described as a move to ‘extract blood from the Mekong’s body’.  

Dr. Nguyen Nhan Quang, director of the Centre for Promotion of Integrated Water Resources Management (CIWAREM), said that the Mekong River is the common property of the mankind. 

The Mekong, running across six countries before reaching the East Sea through Vietnam’s Cuu Long River Delta, brings special economic, historical, cultural and environmental value, and needs thorough protection. All the actions threatening the life of the river will face opposition from the public.

Under the 1995 Mekong River Agreement, the diversion will not affect the river current in the rainy season, but it is strictly prohibited in dry season.

He went on to say that Thailand plans to divert water on the tributaries, not the main stream. However, in the river junction area, the water from the main stream will flow into the tributaries. 

If Thailand pumps water from the tributaries and transfers it to the farmland, it will threaten the lower courses.

“Vietnam, the country in the lower course, will suffer from this: the water volume will decrease in the dry season, while saltwater intrusion will become more serious,” Quang said.

He also warned that the aquatic ecosystem and the sediment will be seriously affected by the river water diversion. 

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha has said that it is necessary to consult with neighboring countries about the river water diversion.

The Thai government has stopped construction of a flood discharge canal with total length of 281 kilometers, capitalized at $5 billion. 

The plan was designed with an aim to settle flooding (Bangkok had a severe flood in 2008), but it was believed to cause serious environmental consequences.

Tran Huu Hiep from the Steering Committee on Socio-Economic Development in the western Southern Region said Vietnam’s Mekong River Delta would bear negative influences from the water diversi:  a sediment decrease; the changes in flow of water, water volume and quality; biodiversity; and waterway transport. 

The delta will also have more landslides and saltwater intrusion.

Quang said Vietnam, which would be affected most, needs to raise its voice in defence of the Mekong. 

There are three ways for it to struggle to protect the Mekong. First, through the official channel, the Mekong River Committee. Second, via mass media. And third, via unofficial relations.

Dat Viet